décembre 8, 2021

Rassie Erasmus and South Africa Rugby apologise to Australian referee Nic Berry

3 min read

South Africa and Rassie Erasmus have withdrawn their intention to appeal against the sanctions imposed on him for making an hour long video criticising a referee during the series against the British and Irish Lions, and also issued an apology.

« This has been a highly stressful and charged environment with unusual pressures placed on all concerned, » SA Rugby said, « and we have no wish to prolong that experience for anyone. »

Erasmus, South Africa’s director of rugby, was banned last week for two months and barred from attending Test matches in an official role for 10 months after World Rugby found him guilty of misconduct.

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Rassie Erasmus speaks to his players during the first Test. (Getty)

The charges emanated from a 62 minute video that appeared online in July in which Erasmus sat alone in a room facing a camera and blasted Australian referee Nic Berry following the world champions’ loss to the Lions in the first Test.

By saying Erasmus and the national union « wish to apologise to the match officials » involved, SA Rugby said they « have drawn a line under the incident and only wish to look forward. »

« We will respect the outcomes of the hearing, allowing our national teams and rugby operations to plan with clarity for the coming months, » the statement read.

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Australian referee Nic Berry awards a penalty to the British and Irish Lions. (Getty)

World Rugby said it welcomed the public apology and considered the case closed.

SA Rugby was also fined A$37,500 by the governing body for the incident.

Berry had earlier accused Rugby World Cup-winning coach Erasmus of a « character assassination » as World Rugby slapped him the ban.

Rassie Erasmus following victory in the 2019 Rugby World Cup final. (Getty)

« Needless to say, the whole situation has been an extremely difficult time for my family and I, » Berry told World Rugby’s judiciary panel.

« As a match official I understand that our performances will be heavily scrutinised, especially in such a prestigious tournament. However, the public attack on my integrity and character is not something that should be tolerated in any workplace.

« I considered officiating in a Lions tour comparable with that in a World Cup. The appointment is a honour which few achieve. However, due to the actions of Mr Erasmus, my family and I have endured a significant amount of distress and we will only have negative memories of the whole experience.

Referee Nic Berry in action during a match between Wales and Fiji. (Getty)

« I feel that Mr Erasmus engaged in a character assassination of me on social media. I have spent many years trying to build my reputation as an international referee and in the course of his video which was posted online, Mr Erasmus has caused it immeasurable damage.

« Though a small proportion of the rugby community will follow the outcome of this matter, and in the process obtain an accurate account of what really occurred, the wider rugby community will only be aware of me in the context of this incident.

« I feel that regardless of the outcome and any sanctions imposed, my reputation as a referee and person will forever be tarnished. »

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